very challenging ordeal to go through , physically , emotionally , and financially ,” he wrote . “ I have ridden out seven hurricanes in my little cottage . I have always been prepared and have always cleaned up and put pieces back together . This storm was the strongest on record , and it proved it .”
Robbie lost his home , his livelihood , and way of life . He ’ s now fishing for trout in the mountain lakes and streams of North Carolina . “ It ’ s a big difference , but a much needed one . The only thing constant is change , and after a couple of rough years , change was made ,” he says .
In the eye of the pandemic , that had further crippled The Abacos and stalled its recovery , Tad Dillon discovered FREESPOOL in a boat graveyard in Miami , resurrected her , and brought her to the black water of the Ogeechee . He was having trouble booking charters for his clients and decided to get his own boat . He had boats before , but never an express . He felt like he had missed out on the conversation and action while driving from above and that many fish had been lost by people hanging out in the air-conditioned salon rather than watching the lines .
Tad embraced the boat restoration project during the Covid-19 shutdown . It was a distraction , a challenge , a way of staying mentally busy , and a way to reconnect with his heritage . He had learned boat rebuilding from the ground up from his father who chartered boats . Tad still has all his old numbers . He remembers watching his father do fiberglass work without respiratory protective wear in an old boatyard in Thunderbolt .
“ It ’ s a dying art . Most kids won ’ t see what we saw and learn what we learned ,” he says .
The trip up the coast from Miami consisted of stolen electronics , a blown engine , seeing a rocket launch off Cape Canaveral , and a naïve mooring at a spot called Mosquito Bay . He has since repowered with Caterpillar C7 engines , bringing the cruising speed to 30 knots . Plans and timing are all mapped out for the complete project , including renaming the boat SAILS CALL . Tad is in sales , and if he says he is on a “ sails call ,” he can cover his butt when he ’ s on the boat instead of working .
Superstitions abound around renaming a boat . If not done correctly , it can bring on bad luck or worse , the wrath of the gods of the sea . Legend holds that every vessel is registered on the Ledger of the Deep which is presided over by Poseidon ( or Neptune ). A ceremony must first be performed to purge every trace of the boat ’ s previous identity and its name on the ledger . No items displaying the boat ’ s new name can be placed on the boat until after the ceremony . It opens by invoking and flattering the mythical god , then a metal tag with the old boat name written in water soluble ink is thrown overboard , and a drink offering of Champagne is poured into the sea from east to west . Next , the mythical gods of the four winds must also be invoked and equally flattered and offered Champagne . Lastly , the new name is revealed , and all get to celebrate and toast with the remaining bubbly .
No ceremony can truly purge the past , nor would we want it to , but hopefully it will ensure a fair weather forecast for SAILS CALL . “ I think it gives it a good vibe ,” Tad says about the nostalgia surrounding the boat . Buoyed by the priceless lessons learned at the feet of his father , he is eager to revive , renew and enhance the vessel with his own hands .
Cheers to a new name , new friends , new winds , and “ here ’ s to living out life in the boat we are in .” •
Tad Dillon flattering the mythical gods with an offering of champagne aboard the soon to be renamed “ SAILS CALL ”.